Aleix García is an intriguing addition to the Bayer Leverkusen midfield. - © Alex Caparros
Aleix García is an intriguing addition to the Bayer Leverkusen midfield. - © Alex Caparros

Aleix García: What will the Spain midfielder bring to defending champions Bayer Leverkusen?


For Aleix García, mentality is everything. The Catalonia-born midfielder has not had the most straightforward route to the top, but following a brilliant individual season with Girona, he joins defending Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen as a man whose career is very much on the rise.

It was not always so plain-sailing.

Having made a move from Villarreal's second string to English giants Manchester City in 2015, García found himself struggling to break through and ended up out on loan in the Romanian first division. Standing at a career crossroads, he had a choice to make.

"When I went to Romania, it opened my eyes," García recalled. "I worked with psychologists I had previously had. At Dinamo, it was the team where I hit rock bottom the most. It was a change of mindset. I knew I had to improve many things on a mental level."

García made four English Premier League appearances for Manchester City. - imago sportfotodienst

García worked his way back to the top via Eibar and then Girona, truly coming of age last season with the latter.

He featured in 37 of 38 league games in 2023/24, accumulating over 3,200 minutes of football as Girona finished third to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Artem Dovbyk's 24 LaLiga goals took the plaudits, but García was at the heart of everything Girona did well. Among midfielders based in Europe’s top leagues last season, he ranked in the 90th percentile for passes played and received per 90 minutes. This could complement Leverkusen’s possession-driven style as García is a player who loves to get on the ball as much as possible, put his team on the front foot, and look to shift the pattern of attack.

Despite a brilliant season on the domestic front, García missed out on a place in Spain's Euro 2024 squad. - IMAGO/IPA Sport/ABACA

Although more of a deep-lying midfielder by trade, García still chipped in with six assists, showing his versatility and attacking value. 

And while he does not necessarily win the most duels, he will bring even more balance and composure to a Leverkusen side that conceded the fewest average goals per match in the Bundesliga (0.7) and enjoyed the highest average share of possession (62 percent).

Another asset is his set-piece delivery. "I am aware that my ability to strike the ball is one of my strengths," García said. "I try to interpret when to pass or shoot. It's one of the strongest aspects of my game."

Girona captain in 2023/24, García will also have the chance to share his leadership skills with young talents like Florian Wirtz. The two-time Spain international will himself be learning from fellow countryman Xabi Alonso - a contribiting factor in his decision to swap his homeland for the BayArena.

"It's clear that Xabi has been important for me," he explained. "The conversations I've had with him have convinced me to sign here."

Last season, Leverkusen’s dynamic duo of Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich were Alonso’s first-choice pairing in central midfield. Argentine 2022 FIFA World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios is another proven quantity at the top level, so García will clearly have a task on his hands to get regular minutes.

However, if there is anyone who can do it, it is García - arguably one of the most driven and effective players in LaLiga in 2023/24.